YAKIMA – The U.S. Solicitor General has recommended that the nation’s highest court consider whether Yakama tribal members are exempt from state gas taxes on the reservation.
The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to announce whether it will review the matter. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the case stems a state Department of Licensing lawsuit in 2013 against a gas station and convenience store called the Cougar Den.
The state alleged the store owned by tribal member Kip Ramsey in White Swan brought out-of-state fuel onto the reservation without paying the state’s fuel tax.
Yakima County Superior Court and the state Supreme Court ruled the Yakama Treaty of 1855 exempted tribal-owned gas stations on the reservation from the tax.
The licensing department appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
As members of a sovereign nation, Yakama tribal members are exempt from state gas, tobacco and sales tax on the reservation. But state authorities complain that too often non-tribal members go to the reservation to buy goods and escape state taxes.
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